With its release timed to coincide with celebrations of the 200th anniversary of the French Revolution (1789-94), this film is actually two films released under one general title. The first, subtitled The Light Years, covers the period from the first stirrings of the revolution (e.g., the convocation of the Estates General (the pre-revolutionary parliament) by King Louis the Sixteenth, through to the moment when the King throws himself on the mercy of the National Assembly (the post-revolutionary legislature) in 1792. The second film, The Terrible Years, covers the time from the King's execution through the years of "the terror," during which anyone might be executed by the newly invented guillotine, concluding with the execution of the firebrand Robespierre and the end of the terror in 1794). Every scene in this huge international production (with an international cast) was filmed once each in English and French, although certain actor's roles were dubbed in later. Some of the better known performers appearing include Claudia Cardinale, Peter Ustinov, Klaus Maria Brandauer, Jane Seymour, and Jean-Francois Balmer.
by Clarke Fountain synopsis